Alexander Henry

Gunsmith, Deceased Person

1818 – 1894


Who was Alexander Henry?

Alexander Henry was a Scottish gunsmith, based in Edinburgh, and designer of the Henry rifling and barrel used in the Martini-Henry rifle.

He submitted a rifle to the competition organised by the British government for a replacement to their existing Snider-Enfield service weapon. Ironically, his breech action and barrel were both judged to be the best but the War Office did not adopt its action, preferring that of von Martini, but did adopt its seven-grooved barrel rifling scheme.

Henry is a fascinating character – from a number of personal tragedies in his family, to some disastrous other business ventures, but he also was the "First Volunteer" – the first signatory to the creation of the Queen’s Edinburgh Rifle Volunteers, a JP, freemason and Edinburgh town councillor.

In 1872 he was appointed "gun and rifle manufacturer to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales".

He and his wife Isabella had nine children : Eliza Mackay, Jemima Janet, James Alexander, William Orchardson, Isabella, a stillborn child, Alexander, Alice Mills and John Chave Luxmore Henry. When Alexander Henry died, he left the business to Alick and John.


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Jun 4, 1818
  • Scotland
Lived in
  • Edinburgh
Jan 27, 1894

on July 23, 2013